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This paper is aimed at discussing the development of forestry education in Canada, as well as the challenges that it currently faces due to various factors. This topic is important because forests are among the most important natural resources that Canada has. One can argue that they are vital for the economic development of the country (Wallace 30).
Furthermore, they are crucial for the environmental sustainability of the country (Wallace 30). Therefore, these natural resources have to be protected by the most competent professionals. This is why much attention should be paid to the peculiarities of forestry education in the country as well as the problems that should be overcome. Overall, it is possible to argue that the main problems are related to the lack of funding and the eventual unwillingness of many people to work in this field.
Moreover, many people are not fully aware of the importance of forestry for Canada. They are often taken for granted, but people do not usually speak about the challenges that can arise provided that Canadian society fails to preserve its forests. These are the main obstacles that should be overcome. This problem requires a complex set of measures that should be taken by educators and policy-makers. It is necessary to create a more appealing image of forestry to cope with various challenges.
The development of forestry education in Canada
It should be borne in mind that the origins of formal forestry education in Canada can be traced back to 1903 when Bernard Fernow gave a series of lectures on various aspects of forestry (McLeish 55). After that, many universities in Canada began to develop courses for people who wanted to work in this field (McLeish 55). In particular, one should mention the University of Toronto, British Columbia, Laval, New Brunswick, and many others (McLeish 55).
Currently, students can attend four-year programs that include both basic and applied natural sciences (Tindall 287). Apart from that, modern forestry programs are closely related to the culture of Native Canadians (Tindall 287). On the whole, the sophistication of forestry in the country can be explained by the growth of the industry involved in the processing of wood. At present, approximately 600.000 people work in organizations or enterprises that are related to the forest industry (Wallace 30).
Moreover, this development can be attributed to the growing concern about the environmental value of the forest. For instance, they are vital to the existence of various birds or animals. Furthermore, they play an important role in the generation of oxygen. These are the main factors that contributed to the growing significance of forestry education in Canada.
The Challenges of Forestry Education in Canada
To discuss the problems that forestry education currently faces. One should pay close attention to the attitudes that people may have toward the natural resources that can be found in Canada. In particular, they are more likely to pay attention to such natural resources as oil and gas since they can create immediate financial value for the society; yet, they can disregard the importance of forests (Wallace 30).
For example, this issue is particularly relevant to people living in Alberta (Wallace, 30). This is the main problem that should be resolved because it has a profound implication for forestry education. For example, researchers note that the enrollment to forestry undergraduate courses has declined.
This trend has been observed throughout the country during the last decade (Kan 2). In the long term, this tendency can lead to the closure of many educational programs that are related to forestry. More importantly, this industry can be deprived of many competent professionals. This is one of the main aspects that can be identified. The understanding of these problems is critical for the development of any strategies that may help educational organizations working in this area.
Apart from that, one should not forget about the opinions and beliefs of students. For instance, there is a stereotype according to which forestry usually involves only low or even primitive technologies (Kan 2). In other words, learners do not know that this field has evolved significantly over the last century.
Moreover, it is perceived as intellectually undemanding (Kan 2). It should be noted that forestry may not be perceived as something unchallenging or undemanding since this discipline requires in-depth knowledge of various disciplines such as biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, and so forth (Kuhlberg 7).
Certainly, these opinions are based on misconceptions, but they do affect the choices of students, especially when they select their majors. In turn, the lack of attention to this area leads to the reduction of funding provided to the educational institutions (Kan 2). As a result, they cannot tailor better educational programs.
To a great extent, this situation can be described as a vicious cycle that should be broken. More importantly, this process can significantly impair the skills of people who will later be responsible for the conservation of the forest. This is one of the main points that can be made.
Apart from that, the problems of Canadian forestry education can be explained by the inability of graduate students to find employment. Due to the closures of many mills, the unemployment in the forest industry rose to 10 percent (Kan 5). Additionally, school or college graduates would prefer to work in other industries since they could offer more lucrative positions.
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Therefore, one should not suppose that school graduates will be willing to choose this career path. The tendency began to improve slightly in 2007; however, this positive change was not sufficient (Kan 5). Therefore, the financial aspects of this issue should not be disregarded by educators and policy-makers.
Overall, this discussion indicates that the challenges of forestry education in Canada are caused by a combination of various factors. Some of them cannot be controlled, especially the economic performance of the forest industry or other private companies. However, there are several issues that can be effectively resolved. For instance, one can mention popular misconceptions about forestry.
Ways of addressing the challenges
Nevertheless, despite these problems, forestry education can still become much more popular. One should take into account that Canadian forests continue to attract many domestic and foreign tourists. Therefore, they can create extra jobs for people who live in various parts of Canada. Moreover, forests significantly increase the economic value of lands (Wallace, 31).
Furthermore, unlike other natural resources, they cannot be depleted if they are attended properly. These are some of their major advantages. Therefore, it is possible that the situation will change in the future. One can expect that this field can be revitalized because, in the future, Canadian society may have to cope with different environmental challenges requiring the competence of skilled professionals.
There are several steps that should be taken to overcome various obstacles. First of all, educators should focus on the opinions and attitudes of high-school students who need to know that forestry is an exciting field of study that will enable them to fulfill their talents.
They should dispel the myths about forestry, for example, the belief that this discipline is undemanding or uninteresting. In part, this goal can be achieved by organizing trips during which learners can get a better idea about the conservation of forests or the functioning of the forest industry. In this way, they can learn more about the joy of working in this area.
Additionally, it is necessary to emphasize that Canadian forests are an excellent attraction for tourists who will be willing to spend both time and money in regions like Alberta. Moreover, it is necessary to stress the idea that the presence of forests is essential for the economic value of the land.
Additionally, one should clearly explain how forests interact with other elements of the ecosystem. In such a way, it is possible to change the attitudes of policy-makers who are responsible for providing funding to forestry education. As has been noted before, the importance of forestry for Canada is not fully recognized because more attention is paid to gas and oil.
Apart from that, educational should work on the development of new programs and courses that can better meet the needs of students who may have diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. This task is particularly urgent if one speaks about such a country as Canada. In such a way, educational institutions can better engage students. This step is critical because it can enable colleges and universities to increase enrollment to their programs.
The implementation of these steps can bring several benefits to Canadian society. First of all, the country will be able to better preserve its precious and long-standing natural resources. Additionally, colleges will be able to choose from a wider pool of talented students. This is one of the main benefits that can be identified.
Secondly, colleges and universities will be able to develop more sophisticated courses for them. As it has been said before, these goals are critical for the economic and environmental viability of the country during the following decade. This is why the significance of these positive changes should not be diminished.
This discussion suggests that forestry education in Canada has a long-standing tradition. Moreover, in the previous years, the college programs related to this field have become more sophisticated. On the whole, forestry can be called a multi-disciplinary field since it requires expertise in various areas. Nevertheless, in recent years, forestry education has been significantly impaired.
To a great extent, this outcome can be explained by the low public awareness about the value of forests for the economic and environmental sustainability of Canada. As a result, the enrollment in educational forestry programs began to decline. The measures proposed in this paper are aimed at enhancing the popular image of this profession. Moreover, it is critical to change the attitudes of policy-makers who should not depreciate the value of forests. These are the main aspects that can be identified.
Kan, Jonathan. Observations on and Implications of the Decline in Forestry Undergraduate Enrolment in Canada. 2012. PDF File. 7 Aug. 2013. <https://circle.ubc.ca/bitstream/handle/2429/42712/Kan_Jonathan_FRST_497_Graduating_Essay_2012.pdf?sequence=1>
Kuhlberg, Mark. One Hundred Rings and Counting: Forestry Education and Forestry in Toronto and Canada, 1907-2007, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009. Print.
McLeish, John. “George A. Garratt, Forestry Education in Canada.” Canadian Journal of Higher Education 12.3 (1972): 55-60. Print.
Wallace , Coleen. “Forests, That Other Natural Resource.” Business In Calgary 23.5 (2013): 30-33. Print.
Tindall, Donald. Aboriginal Peoples and Forest Lands in Canada, Toronto: UBC Press, 2013. Print.